Network printer is not always available when RDP connected to windows 2003 server

2ndOf3 used Ask the Experts™
My client has a remote office with a network printer that has a static IP address. There are two client laptops that come and go from the office. Each laptop can print locally to the printer. Each laptop connects by RDP to two windows 2003 servers, server A in Texas and server B in Minnesota. One laptop can print to the local network printer while logged into both server A and B. The other laptop can print to server B but not always to server A.

The driver has been installed on the server. We have tried multiple versions; PCL6, post script, and universal. All give us the same results. Printer is not available when first logged in. After a few hours it becomes available and then unavailable again.

There is NO firewall on the laptop. There is no antivirus on the laptop.

Other users at a seperate office report similar issues with server A printers. I believe the issue is with the server. The helpdesk that supports server A has not come up with any solutions.
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is it possible to ping the network printer from laptop when connected to server a ?
have both laptops the same setup / configuration ( maybe they are created by an imaging software, or manualy installed ? )
from where did the laptops get theyre routing and ip configuration settings ? maybe the DNS needs some mins/h....
is the vpn access on both laptops identical ? do they have the same settings @ the TCP/IP Tab ? or are they maybe diffrent settings ? maybe the laptop which reaches the printer
has something likle a DNS server preconfigured etc ?


I am not on site. I will try pinging when I am able.

The laptops are configured differently. One is 4 years old with an original xp install, that is the one that works. The one that is intermittent has a brand new xp install with updated drivers and the newest version of RDP.

Routing and DHCP in this office is via a linksys wireless router. The DNS is privided automatically. There is no doamain or DNS server. I will check VPN settings, although this isnt a VPN setup. They connect remotely through the DSL modem via RDP.


I am not able to ping from the server when logged in. I am able to ping the printer on the local network while logged into the server.

Is there a host file that i can use to map the connection to the printer? Is it a problem with redirection? i have done the microsoft recomended fix to make sure printers are redirected when logging in with RDP.

What other things can I try?
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So if I understand the issue correctly, you have a server that a user is remotely connecting to and the printer on that server is showing as offline sometimes and online other times?  If this is correct and it's the printer on the server that is showing as offline, I would check the event logs on the server and see if there is anything in either application or system logs to indicate that the print spooler is stopping for any reason.  The other thing that I would check is to see if the printer is set to go to sleep and what the duration for the power saving feature is on the printer.  Try adjusting the power settings to a longer wait before it goes to sleep.  This can cause the printer to show as offline.  Just some things to try. Please let me know if any of this helps.


The printer is local. When this user logs in using RDP  to a remote server the local printer does is not listed as an available printer on the server. At some point it becomes available on the server. Once available it shows as online, but printing will have errors. Other times it works flawlessly. Another user in the same office that connects to the same remote server using RDP does not have these issues.

I am checking the print spooler logs and have found that the spooler is crashing on occasion becuase of a Universal Print Driver installed on some other client machines. I have not found that the crashes coincide with this users issues, however the spooler restart may be creating the late in the day successful connection.

The printer does not sleep or is activated when the client first boots her machine in the morning.
bbaoIT Consultant

just a quick clarification first. did you check the Printers option at Options>> | Local Resources | Local devices and resources when you started RDP to that server?


Yes, the local resources has been checked.... unchecked and re checked. Printer has been installed uninstalled and reinstalled. PCL and PS drivers have been put on the server.

We are using the most current version of RDP, should I downgrade to 5.0? The computer in the office that is successfully connecting is using version 5.0. That is the only difference i can find. ANother differecne i see is that in the registry under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Terminal Server Client\Default\AddIns\RDPDR there are NO entries on the machine that can not connect, but there ARE additional entries on the computer that CAN connect. Would exporting the registry settings from one to the other help?

I would not recommend exporting that registry setting and importing it into the other machine, because they are running different versions of the RDP.  

One thing you could check would be if bi-directional printing is enable and try disabling that and see if that makes a difference for the one with the issues. (Can be found in the print preferrences on the Ports page at the bottom of the page)

Another thing that you can check is the resource settings for the RDP setup.  When you launch the initial RDP session where you put the computer name or IP address in if you click options there is a resource tab, you can check that and see if the box for the printers is checked.  If not then I would try checking it, and if it is checked then I would try unchecking it and see what happens.  

Please let me know if this works for you.


Okay, i will not export the setting.

I will be onsite friday morning to try the bi-directional setting.

Why would i have no problem remote connecting to one server and many problems on another server?
The universal print driver is loaded on the server that i am logging in to. The exact printer driver for my printer is also installed. The print spooler is crashing when this user logs in because it is getting hung up by the two printer drivers. Because there are a handful of remote users accross the country using the universal driver we can not install it.

My solution was to buy a Brother, Black and White printer (not a multi function) and install the appropriate NON universal driver. Client no longer has issues.

I did NOT install the universal driver on the client. I am buessing that may have solved the issue as well, but everyone on every help site said not to install it.

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